It takes three weeks to form a habit.
Forming good habits is important for many reasons.
If you put in place a good habit at work and it could mean the difference between being promoted by a year.
Put in place a good saving habit and you could retire earlier or enjoy more exotic holidays.
Good health habits could add five healthy years to your life.
Forming habits is synonymous with how you approach your day. Start with good habits in the morning and, chances are, your day will be productive from morning until night.
Here are the seven habits I apply to my morning that help set me up for the day.
1. I wake up early
I’m a night owl so my body prefers to stay up late as opposed to waking up early. I even have the CLOCK gene which means that I can be tired at 10pm but if I stay awake until 11pm my body begins to wake up.
I’ve found in the past that my most productive hours of any part of the day are from 11pm – 4am. If ever I want to get shit done these are the hours I will work.
While this is good for my productivity it is bad for my social life. Sleeping while everyone else is awake and vice versa will isolate you.
Instead, these days I choose to go to bed early to wake up early. My range is usually around 10 – 11pm for bed and then 5am to wake.
Get out of bed at this time and you will increase your productivity tenfold.
Bonus tip: To set your circadian rhythm, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
2. I appreciate I’m alive right at this moment in time
Do you ever wake up on a morning, struggle to get out of bed and think to yourself, “I’m not looking forward to today!”.
If you have, and it’s not one of those rare bad days like attending a funeral of a loved-one, then something in your life is wrong.
If each morning you are filled with dread and apprehension you need to identify what is making you feel that way and deal with that shit.
I was once working in a job I hated. It was a ‘prestigious’ job with a grand title, lots of international travel and a salary that put me in the top one percent of income earners in the UK. I hated it.
I would wake each morning with a sense of dread that I had to go into this place to work. I probably looked dead behind the eyes too. I left after four months.
Life’s too short to feel that way and no amount of money or grandiose title would make me stay.
Since I’ve come to terms with the fact that one day I’m going to die I wake each morning with a sense of appreciation and privilege of welcoming the new day with my health and opportunity.
3. I drink water
Since you’re technically fasted after a sleep and haven’t drunk anything for at least the duration of your sleep I usually chug down a pint of water on the morning to rehydrate myself and fire up my metabolism.
Some will say that drinking water on a morning will have no bearing on the metabolism to which I reply, you might be right, but this is the story I tell myself and the placebo effect does work.
Whether you agree with the metabolism reason or not the need to hydrate the body is a no brainer. You should consume the most of your daily morning as early as possible so you can pass it through before bed. No one likes waking up at 2am to take a piss.
4. I do some form of exercise
Unless I’m on a rest day or being a lazy dick (we all have our days) then I’ll do some form of exercise.
I usually do this as soon as I wake. I’ll jump out of bed, throw on my gym gear and head to the gym. I may brew a coffee before I go.
In the age of distractions, if I don’t leave as soon as I wake and sit at my computer, my chances of actually getting to the gym will have reduced so it’s important that I leave then.
I’ve heard some people go to sleep in their gym clothes. If this works for you, do it.
Whatever exercise I’m doing I do it in a fasted state as this saves time and I enjoy the workout more (especially a run). The notion that you need to eat before a workout is false and increasingly people who exercise regularly are introducing fasting to their regime because of the numerous benefits of it.
Which leads to my next point.
5. I fast or eat something very healthy
In the last six months I’ve been intermittent fasting where I stop eating at 8pm and won’t eat again until 1-2pm the next day. The only things I’ll put down my throat during this fast is water or black coffee.
Essentially all I’m doing is skipping breakfast and having a late lunch but intermittent fasting like this provides numerous benefits including, decreasing insulin levels, reduces inflammation, increases brain function and also helps you control how many calories you eat.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This idea was conceived by advertisers of cereal companies to convince us to eat their products. Amazing what passes into the mainstream isn’t it?
If I’m not fasting I may make a super healthy smoothie with kale, spinach, avocado, carrot, apple, nuts, seeds and berries. Or I may have some organic porridge or a couple of hard-boiled eggs.
The basic premise is I don’t eat crap on a morning. Not a sugary cereal anyway. I either eat something nutritionally healthy or nothing at all.
I’ve covered my passion for walking and the benefits I get from it in an earlier post.
It’s one of the best low-impact exercises you can do. It clears your head, burns calories and helps you get fresh air into the lungs.
Get into the habit of walking instead of driving or using public transport, and before you know you’ll have covered miles and burned off thousands of calories.
6. Listen to a podcast or audiobook
Every day I listen to a podcast, audiobook or YouTube video. Usually while walking and sometimes when I’m cooking or working.
I love learning new things. I love learning about health, fitness, psychology, travel, mindset and anything life-related. I enjoy knowing random facts, stats and data. It’s just the way my mind works.
Carl Sagan said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known” which is how I feel about learning new stuff. It’s a zest for learning I hope I’ll keep until the day I die.
All of my morning habits are done before 9am. Most people have barely started their day by then. Start your morning with good habits and watch your life improve.
Once a habit has been ingrained it’s just part of your day. You don’t need to consciously implement it or even think about it because the habit is part of your routine.
You don’t forget to brush your teeth in the morning. Why? Because from an early age you were taught to develop the habit.
Good habits become second nature. Second nature becomes part of your life. The difference between implementing a good habit and continuing with a bad one can be exponential.
Start small. Introduce one new habit, then another, and another. Before you know your start to the day is completely different. Better.
Someone once said we are creatures of habit. Make sure yours are good ones.